Saturday, 15 June 2019

Planning Committee to decide whether to build on designated open space in Wembley Central

At the end of the long London Road, off Wembley High Road, there is a little known open space adjacent to the playing fields behind Ark Elvin Academy and Elsley Primary School. The open space is designated as such in Brent's Core Strategy Policy CP18 but planning officers argue in their report going to Planning Committee on Wednesday 19th June that it should be built on, partly because part of it has been covered in tarmac:
Officers do not consider that the site has the character or usability of conventional open space despite its designation as such. Officers therefore consider that the space could appropriately be developed for residential uses without materially detracting from the value of the playing fields open space designation.
The site is close to a Grade 1 Site In Nature Conservation (SINC) which is close to the brook to the south and is also designated as a woldlife corridor.

When I visited the site much of it was fenced off but these photographs show the nature of the site.

It is planned to remove 29 of the 43 trees on the site, including all those that have a tree preservation order.  I am not sure if it is proposed to fell the very handsome mature oak on the site that can be seen in the satellite view. Officers argue that there will be a net gain as 85 new trees will be planted as pat of the development.

Overall they argue that the loss of the open space is outweighed by the gain in terms of housing. The plan for the site can be seen below. Click bottom right corner for full page view.

As well as new housing there will be a replacement community centre slightly smaller than the present one but no new youth centre:

NAIL (New Accommodation for Independent Living) Residential Units (25 total)
     17x studio flats 8 x 1 bedroom flats
Residential Units providing temporary accommodation (53 total)
32x 1 bedroom flats (which are adaptable to a 2 bedroom layout)
21x 2 bedroom flats (which are adaptable to a 3 bedroom layout)

General Purpose Residential Units for Affordable Rent (92 total)

10x 1 bedroom flats
61x 2 bedroom flats
13x 3 bedroom flats
8x 3 bedroom houses
Community Centre (293sqm indoor space + 168sqm outdoor space)

There have been four letters of objection to the development and a 57 signature petition of objection from nearby households. Elsley Primart School supported the development on the basis of local housing need.


Philip Grant said...

'... the loss of the open space is outweighed by the gain in terms of housing.'

A similar argument was put forward, on a larger scale, by a leading Labour councillor from Kilburn in the early 1970's. He was passionate about providing social housing.

If he had got his way, what is now Fryent Country Park would have been a housing estate. (Some Conservative councillors would have turned it into a golf course instead.)

Anonymous said...

Sounds like certain Ecological Consultants could be in the pockets of Brent Planning/Council.
Appalling that yet another area of open
space and a designated wildlife corridor is to be destroyed. What is the point of having Tree Preservation Orders if the trees can be removed without a thought? Saplings, as replacements, are of little value ecologically until maturity, which takes many years. In the interim the established wildlife disappears and is highly unlikely to return. Brent Council will be forever known as the Council of destruction,greed and self interest.

Paul Lorber said...

As the Labour Mayor of London is almost doubling the Brent target for new housing from 1525 to 2900 units extra per year (yes 2,900 extra per year) these type of pieces of Brent owned land will inevitably be built on. The proposal here is for blocks of flats up to 7 storey high but of course in other parts of Wembley and Alperton the impact of Mr Khan’s demands result in 28 storey monsters.

Sadly nothing is safe as to build 2900 extra units each year for 10 years (29000 proposed 10 year target) means that every piece of available space is up for grabs - including things like Sudbury Town Underground Station Car Park which there is a proposal to build on the whole car park leaving just 3 parking spaces for disabled people. As Brent Council gets a lot of money from the ‘new build bonus’ the Labour run Council is happy to accept all of this. Inevitably Brent the price of all of this will be small pockets of green space like this and much more.

Jaine Lunn said...

i remember this coming to planning for approval about 2 years ago, and it was deferred for more information. The land concreted was done as part of the redevelopment of Copland School back in the 90s it was concreted so the plant works could be stored on it. It was then used as a car park for the teachers at Copland School which later became Ark Elvin Academy. Copland Fields is not Ark Elvin Playing Fields this portion was leased to Keir to build Ark Elvin Academy and their sports and MUGA's are within the school boundary. A portion of the fields were given to Elsley Primary to expand their school, and a small portion give to St Josephs RC Primary to use, under an old agreement which allowed them to use the fields for sport. The rest of the fields have been fenced off since they reconstructed the school preventing local residents from using this for informal play. The whole of this land belongs to the people of Brent, not the Council to dispose of it as they see fit. Whilst I personally believe single storey units for NAIL (25) would not be such a bad thing, a further 150+ temporary or affordable which could range up to 7 floors is a stupid idea and very out of character for the area. We have little or no green space left in Wembley Central and Tokynton, no Trees of any worth left on the High Road, we need to preserve the Natural habitat of species in this area.